Friday, May 9, 2014

Taking Your Non-Medicine

I recently stopped taking a daily multivitamin, after reading one too many (or, more positively, let's say just exactly enough) articles like this one from Science Based Medicine, repeating the fact that studies don't show any reliable benefit of supplement use in the absence of a specific medical condition.

It was strangely difficult to quit, having spent so many years taking a reassuring pill every day because it seemed like a good idea, something I could do to help ensure the best health I could get (it can't hurt, right? unless it can...), but I got to the end of my last bottle a couple of months ago and didn't buy any more.

I have not been noticeably more ill since then than I was in all the years when I took that pill, for what my personal anecdote is worth. Although I have to admit even if I did notice a change for the worse, it would as likely be due to the ravages of age, as to the absence of protective vitamin supplementation.

The pediatrician also told me not to give my son a multivitamin because it wasn't necessary--sorry, kid, no more bear-shaped chewies for you!--and he seems as hale as ever, even if he missed his daily candy for a while, until he forgot all about it. (The short memory of infancy can be a wonderful thing.)

I do still take a calcium supplement for bones, partly because I still have a bottle of them that I might as well use up, and partly because I'm not clear from my reading as to whether there's a consensus on their value, or lack of value, the way there seems to be on that of multivitamins.

I also take lysine tablets on occasion for prevention and treatment of cold sores, just because--totally anecdotally--popping lysine like candy does seem to reduce the length of a breakout for me. Studies are inconclusive at best and I can't exactly do a controlled trial on myself, but I hate cold sores a lot and lysine appears to be beneficial in that regard and is not linked with known deleterious side effects, so I have basically concluded that in this case it's worth a shot.

So I'm not immune to the lure of tablets, and while I feel pretty good about dumping the multi (that's a few more dollars I can spend on video games!), I'm sure some people might kind of notice a difference with them the way I kind of do with lysine, so I'm not going to start any campaigns to clear out other peoples' medicine cabinets.

Not right now, anyway. Maybe after I finish Tomb Raider.